Your employer has a duty to provide you with a safe working environment and speak to you about any health and safety issues that may affect you – but from time to time, we all have accidents, some more serious then others. Most workplace accidents can be avoided if the proper risk assesements and health and safety advice is followed, for example, making sure you have your cables tidied away in specially designed cable tidy, or ensuring that walkways are clear by providing storage lockers for personal belongings. If you have an accident at work, depending on the severity of it, your employer has to inform the Incident Contact Centre – part of the Health and Safety Executive.
The instances where the employer has a duty to inform the ICC are cases where there has been a death or major injury (for example a broken leg, or ribs), where there has been a disease outbreak, a dangerous incident (for example, a gas leak, the collapse of scaffolding, etc) or any other injury that has prevented an employee from doing their normal job for more then three days. Although the report has to be made by your employer, it is a good idea to make sure it has been reported if it is something you have been involved with.
Any injury, no matter the severity, should be recorded in an “accident book” which most companies (unless they are very small) hold. The book is mainly for employee benefit as it provides a record of any incident should you later require time off or to claim for compensation – it also is a benefit to the employer as it helps them see any possible issues and take action to try and stop accidents happening again in the future.
For most companies, if an employee has an accident at work, depending on the circumstances, that employee is only entitled to statutory sick pay. There may be a scheme in your company where you are entitled to more money as it was an accident on work premises, or the employer may decide to pay extra due to the circumstances at the time of your injury.
By law, companies have to be insured, this is to help cover any claims by employees for compensation due to an accident or injury obtained in the workplace. If your company does not have the information on display, they must give you the details should you need them to.
If you have had an accident, or an injury at work, and you think that the employer was at fault – you can try making an accident or injury compensation claim. To claim, you have to make the claim within three years of the incident, and you will normally need a qualified personal injury lawyer to represent your case. If you belong to a trade union, they may have legal services that can advise you. Most personal injury firms will take on a case on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.
If you do decide to sue, there may well be court costs and other fees to think about. The aim of compensation isn’t to give you “free money” but rather to help you get to the position financially that you would have been had you never had the accident at work.